11. What was the first Christmas in the Salt Lake Valley like?
Read the following accounts and then post your 11th day answer on our blog or facebook.
It was Christmas 1847. Here are some accounts of what that first Christmas in the Valley was like:
“The Christmas of 1847 was fortunately a mild one. There was intense suffering, especially among the women and children. Food was scarce with little variety; there were of course, no Christmas gifts, and no Christmas trees, but there was a Christmas spirit in the camp.” – “First Christmas in Utah,” Deseret News, Dec 7, 1933.
“We had no floor but the ground, but we were thankful for a roof. My father laid the floor on Christmas day, and my mother called it a merry Christmas. It was indeed a time of rejoicing; we had been so long without a home and suffered so much living in a wagon during the cold weather.” – Mary Jane Mount Tanner
“From the 19th to the 25th of December we had frosty nights and warm days in the valley. The snow is now nearly gone and weather fine. Today (25th) we were awakened by the firing of cannon and the day was spent in work by some, and in amusements by others, and at night dances and plays by the young people.” – Robert Stanton Bliss
“I remember our first Christmas in the Valley. We all worked as usual. The men gathered sagebrush, and some plowed; for though it had snowed, the ground was still soft, and the plows were used nearly the entire day. We celebrated the day on the Sabbath (Christmas was on Saturday), when all gathered around the flagpole in the center of the Fort, and there we held a meeting. And what a meeting it was. We sang praises to God, we all joined in the evening prayer, and the speaking that day has always been remembered. There were words of thanksgiving and cheer. Not a despairing word was uttered. The people were hopeful and buoyant because of their faith in the great work they were undertaking. After the meeting there was handshaking all around. Some wept with joy. The children played in the inclosure, and around a sagebrush fire that night. We gathered and sang “Come, Come Ye Saints.”
‘We had boiled rabbit and a little bread for our dinner. Many who were there for that first Christmas in the Valley later remarked that in the sense of perfect peace and good will, they never had a happier Christmas in all their lives.” – Elizabeth Huffaker
Taken from: Susan Arrington Madsen, Christmas A Joyful Heritage, p. 25-26.